Mario vs. Donkey Kong

Game Boy Advance

Generally favorable reviews - based on 43 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 37 out of 43
  2. Negative: 0 out of 43
Buy On
  1. 90
    It's fun, gloriously slick and executed at the standards we've come to expect. DK94 players should consider this essential; to everyone else it comes highly recommended.
  2. AceGamez
    Solid gameplay combined with the fun of Mario's acrobatics, the crazy antics of our favourite giant ape and a rousing score to boot makes Mario Vs. Donkey Kong just one more reason to remind us why Nintendo have always been champions in the field of electronic entertainment.
  3. One of the best-looking GBA games to come along in some time, and definitely a great addition to the legacy of both Mario and Donkey Kong.
  4. Nintendo Power
    The difficulty curve is perfect, and the game is constantly introducing new concepts to keep things fresh. [July 2004, p.119]
  5. It is nothing but fun from beginning to end. The one thing that surprises me is how most players have ignored it, even though it is a *gasp* brand new Mario game!
  6. 90
    But for all the genre-requisite spike avoiding, platform hopping, and ghost dodging, the stars here are the levels themselves. They are, in essence, entire puzzles to be solved by leading Mario mites into toy chests, finding keys, and backflipping onto triggers that make some walls or walkways materialize from the ether, and others magically disappear. Me likes.
  7. Cheat Code Central
    The one area where MvsDK lacks slightly is overall challange for hardcore players. It won't take much effort to get through each level - maybe, two or three tries at the most.
  8. The main problem we have with it is that, despite having a variety of levels and level-styles, the basic format of each world can start to feel a touch repetitive by the time you reach the third or fourth world. [NGC]
  9. netjak
    If you’re thin on patience or hate puzzle games, Mario vs. Donkey Kong will likely just frustrate you, and you’re better off looking elsewhere. However, if you’re looking for something to stretch both your brain and your reflexes, give Mario vs. Donkey Kong a try.
  10. 85
    Even though the game isn't unique, the entire experience is because every one of the challenges are new to the GBA production. And though we miss the old-school presentation, it's still great to play the fantastic game design in a fresh perspective.
  11. One of the best platformers to come out of Nintendo in a long time, but it may leave the Donkey Kong '94 players with a feeling of "been there, done that".
  12. It's incredibly accessible to young and less-experienced gamers with the automatic save options and easy explanations of new moves, but it also presents mind-tickling puzzles for older players that will involve much thinking and planning in order to successfully complete the level.
  13. The ability to freeze time while scanning the level layout is an excellent feature, allowing the player to plan ahead and appreciate the strategic side of these spatial conundrums. However, the correct path through each level is a little more obvious and straightforward than in the GameBoy original, so planning your progress now takes more of a back seat to time-pressed platform expertise.
  14. Nintendo comes through with a stunning combination of genres to deliver an Action/Puzzle game that has just enough extras and attention to detail to make it worth the slightly higher launch price of $34.99.
  15. This is a game that is especially good for traveling since the levels are somewhat small and can be beaten in a few minutes instead of hours.
  16. Play Magazine
    A fresh take on an old premise that's impossible to put down, filled with old friends (Shy Guys, Boos, Ram-Rams, Monchees...), crisp, vivid graphics and sound, and osme yummy cinemas. [July 2004, p.71]
  17. I’m torn here because Donkey Kong ’94 is one of my favorite games of all time, and Mario vs. Donkey Kong just isn’t as good.
  18. While the gameplay skews a little heavily towards the puzzle side, it’s worthwhile for anyone who is fan of a good game.
  19. A portable platform puzzler that while simple in nature, is sure to please fans of both Nintendo characters.
  20. 80
    Oh-so-close to being the perfect handheld game. Its rich, entertaining gameplay can be enjoyed in nuggets, and simply put, it’s beautifully designed.
  21. It's not necessarily innovative, but it is fun and particularly suited to people who have only short burst of time to play on the GBA.
  22. It won't come as anything new or inspiring to anybody who's tackled a DK title before, but it engages the brain in ways that we enjoy being probed, and for all its age the formula is still as sound as ever.
  23. The feeling of accomplishment that that emerges from the wake of a particularly tough challenge makes all the hair-tearing worthwhile. [Aug 2004, p.104]
  24. Both on its own and as a tribute to Mario's legacy, Mario vs. Donkey Kong does a great job.
  25. May not have as much universal appeal as a typical Mario platformer, but the puzzle-heavy gameplay is engaging and addictive in its own way. There are a ton of levels, and the level design is interesting enough to maintain your interest for a long while.
  26. Pocket Games
    Less mindless than a typical Mario game, but still full of action. May be too challenging for young players. [Summer 2004, p.29]
  27. 80
    It's not a particularly original adventure, but MvsDK is a classy reminder of where these games all started. And as it happens, it's pretty fun, too.
  28. An absolute triumph of level design and wit.
  29. 80
    Some of the puzzles in the later worlds are quite mind boggling, and you might even find yourself giving up, but nonetheless Mario VS Donkey Kong is a great game to be enjoyed by everybody.
  30. Those looking for a Nintendo-themed puzzle game with plenty of length, but not always the greatest amount of depth will enjoy collecting Mini Marios until the goombas come home.
  31. Embodies what a handheld game should be. It has short levels, and the learning curve is very low. You'll find yourself whipping through the game in a short amount of time, but the replay value is there with over 90 levels to try and get that gold star on.
  32. Aside from its engaging nostalgic gameplay, Mario vs. Donkey Kong gets a lot of its replay value from its scoring system.
  33. Weekly Famitsu
    8 / 7 / 7 / 8 - 30 silver [Vol 809; 18 June 2004]
  34. I guess that this game doesn't bowl me over just because I felt like I was always going to finish a level in two (at the most three) attempts. Doing the math, that means a few hours of gameplay for most players. [June 2004, p.137]
  35. If you pick-up Mario vs. Donkey Kong expecting a classic Mario title, you’ll be sorely disappointed, not to mention frustrated. However, if you like puzzle games like "The Lost Vikings," MvDK should be right up your alley.
  36. 75
    A quirky and sometimes frustrating puzzle action title that fails to do its two famous mascots justice.
  37. Unfortunately, as it was in the past and still is apparent now, the game is very repetitive, but for those looking for a solid platform-puzzle game for the GBA, that may not be a problem.

Awards & Rankings

#21 Most Discussed Game Boy Advance Game of 2004
#3 Most Shared Game Boy Advance Game of 2004
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 34 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 8
  2. Negative: 0 out of 8
  1. Nov 15, 2016
    This is the worst game of the "Mario vs. Donkey Kong" series (including the Japanese only Super Famicom game Mario & Wario). I played it firstThis is the worst game of the "Mario vs. Donkey Kong" series (including the Japanese only Super Famicom game Mario & Wario). I played it first and found it more than a little frustrating, so I thought I wouldn't enjoy the rest of the series. It took me a couple of years to realize that the first entry in the series is not only the worst of them all, it is also quite different (in terms of genre / gameplay) from the other games.

    I will not bother to complete this 100%, and I'll explain why...

    First of all, the puzzles aren't really puzzles.
    The ghost house levels in Super Mario games qualify more as puzzles.
    Very little thinking is involved, here, especially if you've played other games in the series.

    If you want to earn the gold star, in any given level, there is (typically) only one way to do it. You have to follow a very linear path, through each level. And, each level is split into two halves. So, to get the gold star, you have to finish the first half perfectly and then complete the second half perfectly. If you stuff up the second half, you have to kill off your remaining lives (or quit the level) and start the whole thing again. This, for me, is the biggest flaw in the game design. Maybe if the levels were really fun, I wouldn't mind doing the same thing over and over again. But, they aren't.

    One level, in particular, that frustrated me, involved crouching on the edge of robots at precise positions so that (when one robot bumps into another) you swap positions and progress through the level. There is literally half a millimeter difference between success and failure. You have to do this twice, in this particular level, to get to the end. And, it is the second half of a level. So, if you're trying to get the gold star, and you happen to be positioned ever so slightly incorrectly on either robot, it's back to the beginning of the first half. This is one of about half a dozen levels I gave up on. If I persisted, I'm sure I could get all the stars, but life is too short and I have better things to do.

    As I said, this isn't a puzzle game. It is, predominantly, a platform game and it's not a very good one. In fact, it is (in my opinion, anyway) the worst Mario platform game ever made.

    The rest of the series is sort of like Lemmings, in the Mario universe.
    You're required to edit the level, in real time, as Mini-Mario toys walk blindly through it.
    Whereas, in the first Mario vs. Donkey Kong, you control Mario instead of manipulating the environment.
    It is a half-way between Donkey Kong (on GameBoy) and a typical Mario vs. Donkey Kong game.
    But, again, Donkey Kong is a much better game.

    The linearity of the game bothers me more than anything else, I think. When trying to earn gold stars, there is a couple of seconds difference between success and failure. This leaves practically no room for developing a personal style of gameplay. In order to succeed, you have to complete a very specific series of events.

    Instead of thinking, it requires you to obey. It reminds me of playing "Guess what number I'm thinking of." You either provide the precise answer you're expected to provide, or you fail. There is no room for individuality, here; there is no freedom of expression.

    The game, itself, isn't bad. But, trying to get all the gold stars is beyond tedious.
    And, like most games in the M vs. DK series, many of the boss levels are sloppy and dated.
    Full Review »
  2. Apr 14, 2016
    Mario vs. Donkey Kong is one of those fanservices that actually works. It's not because it's just a video game and I'm claiming video gameMario vs. Donkey Kong is one of those fanservices that actually works. It's not because it's just a video game and I'm claiming video game battles to be better than movie battles, it's that Nintendo created it just the way the movies are supposed to do them. Full Review »
  3. Feb 26, 2016
    Este Juego es uno de los que mas recuerdo en la GBA, un juego que sin duda no es 100% bueno ya por ser lento, pero tiene buenos puzzles que teEste Juego es uno de los que mas recuerdo en la GBA, un juego que sin duda no es 100% bueno ya por ser lento, pero tiene buenos puzzles que te pueden dejar un buen tiempo jugando. Full Review »